Reba and I have always loved Thai food and last evening we headed out with a friend to find some. Good news! Rancho Mirage boasts two Thai restaurants. Both are wildly popular. But last evening we knew exactly where to go for impeccable service, a serene environment and scrumptious fare. Bangkok 5, on Highway 111, is a slice of Thai refinement and hospitality. The minute you step through the doors and are welcomed by owner, Lucky Teachanarong, you’ll know that you are in for a treat.

Ensconced in a cozy booth we noted the restrained decor, lovely verdant garden atrium that the dinning areas surround, and most of all the aromas of the exquisite Thai cuisine wafting through the dining rooms. Dinner for us is always serious business so ordering commenced immediately and with Lucky’s advice we started with an order of Poh Piah Sod – fresh spring rolls with a delicious peanut flavored dipping sauce. We dove into a second starter – Plar Goong – the minute it arrived at the table, relishing the combination of smoky bar-b-qued shrimp tossed in a crunchy red and white cabbage slaw and topped with a delicate, spicy Thai dressing. Yum!

A bottle of chilled Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc arrived just as Lucky delivered a plate of bite-sized surprises. Star Bangkok’s comprised of corn kernels, chicken and crispy tapioca bits snuggled into tiny silver paper cups topped with cucumber sauce that would make a king give up his throne for more. Pretty on the plate but these “Stars” didn’t have a chance with our crew.

Yum Goon Chiang – Thai sausage salad with cucumbers and shallots tossed in a sweet lemon dressing was a unanimous choice for our next round when Lucky told us that he personally drives to Los Angeles to select the sausages from elderly ladies that make them “like at home”. Love those elderly ladies!

To cap our culinary adventure the next and last savory was a Gang Gai, a spicy green chicken curry infused with bamboo shoots and fresh basil, cooked and served in a hulled coconut. Lucky showed us how to scoop the soft and meaty coconut flesh onto the top of the curry making a delicious and unique condiment. You would have thought we hadn’t eaten in a week. The curry and its container disappeared in a flash.

Lucky Teachanarong and his beautiful wife Jan are extraordinary people. For five years they have been the primary patrons for a grammar school north east of Bangkok. One hundred and eighty children ages 3 to 12 years of age benefit from their compassion and generosity. Annually Lucky and Jan host a benefit dinner at their Rancho Mirage restaurant for their school in Thailand. In 2010 the event raised $72,000.

Lucky told us about the vegetable garden, fish ponds and the chickens that the children care for; providing two meals a day for the youngsters and their teachers. The formal educational curriculum is so advanced that one of the graduates of the school was among 12 children in the nation to be selected for a full scholarship at a prestigious nearby high school.

Of course the school has up to date computers and equipment. The building would win an architectural prize in the U.S. Ask Lucky to show you his pictures. Listen to his story. It is inspiring. When Lucky talks about the school, and the children that benefit from the education it provides, he lights up like a beacon. Reba and I were ready to volunteer on the spot.

You can support Lucky and his school by making a check out to Lucky’s School Foundation and mailing it to Lucky Teachanarong, 71151 Patricia Park Place, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270.

RM